Global stocks advance after Trump signs $900B aid package
BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets have risen after President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion economic aid package, helping to reduce uncertainty as governments re-impose travel and business curbs in response to a new coronavirus variant.
London and Frankfurt opened higher, while Shanghai and Tokyo advanced as traders returned to work following a three-day Christmas weekend.
Trump signed the measure, which also includes money for other government activities through September, despite expressing frustration that $600 payments to the public weren’t bigger. His signature helped to clear uncertainty as newly re-imposed travel and business curbs threaten to weigh on global economic activity.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Sunday, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown.
The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as money for cash-starved transit systems and an increase in food stamp benefits.
Trump announced the signing in a statement Sunday night that spoke of his frustrations with the COVID-19 relief for including only $600 checks to most Americans instead of the $2,000 that his fellow Republicans rejected. He also complained about what he considered unnecessary spending by the government at large. But Trump’s eleventh-hour objections created turmoil because lawmakers had thought he was supportive of the bill, which had been negotiated for months with White House input.
Chinese regulators order Ant Group to rectify its businesses
HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group, the world’s largest financial technology company, to rectify its businesses and comply with regulatory requirements amid increased scrutiny of anti-monopoly practices in the country’s internet sector.
According to a statement from regulators, The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, summoned Ant executives on Saturday and ordered them to formulate a rectification plan and an implementation timetable of its business, including its credit, insurance and wealth management services.
The statement said that Ant Group lacked a sound governance mechanism, defied regulatory compliance requirements and engaged in regulatory arbitrage. It also said that the company used its market position to exclude rivals and hurt the rights and interests of consumers.
The meeting came after Chinese regulators last month halted Ant’s $37 billion stock debut in Shanghai and Hong Kong over regulatory changes, and comes just days after China announced an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which owns a 33% stake in Ant Group.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASTRAZENECA SHOT
AstraZeneca: Shot will be effective against COVID-19 variant
LONDON (AP) — The head of drug maker AstraZeneca, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine widely expected to be approved by U.K. authorities this week, said Sunday that researchers believe the shot will be effective against a new variant of the virus driving a rapid surge in infections in Britain.
The chief executive of AstraZeneca told the Sunday Times that researchers developing its vaccine have figured out a “winning formula” making the jab as effective as rival candidates.
Some have raised concern that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University, may not be as good as the one made by Pfizer already being distributed in the U.K. and other countries. Partial results suggest that the AstraZeneca shot is about 70% effective for preventing illness from coronavirus infection, compared to the 95% efficacy reported by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
CHINA-GAME TYCOON DIES
Shanghai police say suspect detained in games tycoon’s death
BEIJING (AP) — Police in Shanghai say a suspect has been detained in the death by possible poisoning of the billionaire founder of a Chinese video game company that is producing films based on popular science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem.”
Yoozoo Games says 39-year-old Lin Qi died on Christmas Day after being hospitalized. Police say a 39-year-old coworker is being detained.
Police say Lin was hospitalized Dec. 17 and diagnosed with possible poisoning but gave no other details.
Yoozoo also is know for its game “Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming,” based on the popular TV series.
Gibraltar’s border with Spain still in doubt after Brexit
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — While corks may have popped in London and Brussels over the end to the Brexit negotiations, there is one rocky speck of British soil still left in limbo.
Gibraltar, a British colony jutting off Spain’s southern tip, was not included in the Brexit trade deal announced on Christmas Eve between the European Union and the United Kingdom to reorganize the commercial and trade relations between the now 27-member bloc and the first nation to exit the group.
The deadline for Gibraltar remains Jan. 1, when a transitionary period regulating the short frontier between Gibraltar and Spain expires. If no deal is reached, there are serious concerns that a hard border would cause major disruptions for workers, tourists and business connections across the two sides.
‘Wonder Woman 1984’ debuts with pandemic-best $16.7M
NEW YORK (AP) — Despite premiering simultaneously by streaming service, “Wonder Woman 1984” managed the best box office debut of the pandemic, opening with $16.7 million over the Christmas weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That’s only a faint glimmer of typical business during holiday season, when cinemas are usually packed and box office receipts among the best of the year.
Last year, “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” exceeded $32 million on Christmas Day alone. According to data firm Comscore, 35% of all North American theaters are currently open.
But Warner Bros. could still celebrate the performance of “Wonder Woman 1984.” The studio on Sunday announced that it would fast-track a third “Wonder Woman” film, with Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot returning.